Major study says world has just 11 years to avoid catastrophic climate change
By Terry Miller / Photos by Brian Biery
Inspired by an eloquent Swedish 16-year-old, thousands of students took to the streets from New York to Pasadena Friday.
On Sept. 20, more than 4 million people across the U.S. and world went “on strike” to demand a right to a future for this planet. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish student called on leaders to “prove they hear us” led a climate rally in New York, while millions of people joined protests around the world, including Pasadena, pointing out in no uncertain terms the urgency of action now.
Friday’s #ClimateStrike was the largest youth-led climate mobilization in the U.S. and global history, and this is only the beginning, organizers from the Future Coalition said Friday: “We refuse to sit down as our future is destroyed around us.”
Friday, three days before the U.N. Climate Summit in New York, high school students from Sequoyah School and many other area schools and organizations joined forces with local activists in a climate strike and an 11 minute “die-in,” a form of protest where activists will simulate the act of being dead. Activists chose the 11-minute die in specifically to represent the 11 years left to “prevent irreversible damage from climate change according to the United Nations. To solve the problem the private sector and youth must be involved.”
Led by a student committee, Sequoyah students marched from their high school campus to Pasadena City Hall where they were met by scores of other students and area activists concerned about climate change.
Protestors want the Green New Deal, respect of indigenous land, environmental justice, protection of biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, and so much more.
“Climate change is the biggest threat we will likely face during our lives, and with only a few years (or even months) to act, we must treat it as an emergency and combat it in every way we can,” said Ozzy Simpson, co-president of Sequoyah’s student council and one of the organizers of the Pasadena Climate Strike.
“With more disastrous weather events, rising sea levels, and changing landscapes, we need to make significant changes to save this planet, and quickly.”
Earlier in the day students held discussions focused on the causes of climate change, why people deny climate change, and how to combat climate change as individuals, among other topics.
“Climate change is a frightening, imminent reality which we are all facing, and as students, even global citizens, it is imperative that we stand together and fight for the future we want to see,” said Julian Suh-Toma, who serves with Simpson as co-president of Sequoyah’s student council.
As world leaders convened in New York at the United Nations for a three-day summit on the global climate crisis, Thunberg has garnered international attention for her thoughtful and dramatic speeches in recent days. On Monday the eloquent Swedish activist’s impassioned speech caught the collective attention of those present as well the international media covering the three-day event: “You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.” In the emotion-filled speech, Thunberg chided world leaders with the repeated phrase, “How dare you?”
President Trump apparently “breezed by a major climate change summit at The U.N. Monday and focused instead on religious persecution, an issue that resonates with evangelical supporters who want to see him reelected next year,” according to the Associated Press.
The Climate Strike was part of a growing movement of youth and adults, institutional and grassroots organizations, climate-focused and social justice groups, that are coming together as a unified front to demand the change needed to protect the future of the planet. Nationally coordinated by Future Coalition, this effort includes youth organizations such as Earth Uprising, Fridays for Future USA, Extinction Rebellion-Youth, the Sunrise Movement, U.S. Youth Climate Strike, Zero Hour, Earth Guardians and International Indigenous Youth Council. The Youth Climate Strike Coalition is steering the national campaign, with the active support, participation, and collaboration from an Adult Climate Strike Coalition, which includes leading national progressive organizations such as 350.org, Greenpeace, SEIU and March On.
California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom tweeted the following on Monday at the United Nations:
The climate crisis we face isn’t specific to our state or our nation. It’s a global crisis that must be tackled head on—CA’s stepping up. pic.twitter.com/hf9jMpDSyY
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 23, 2019
In his opening remarks at United Nations Monday, Newsom minced no words:
“I don’t know what the hell happened to this country that we have the President that we do today, on this issue. I mean that, let me just dispense with that. Because it’s a damn shame, it really is. I’m not a little embarrassed about it; I’m absolutely humiliated by what’s going on. The idea that we pull out of Paris, or at least announce our intention to pull out of Paris. The idea that now he’s attacking states’ rights — the State of California that for over half a century has had a federal waiver that goes back to President Richard Nixon and former Governor Ronald Reagan that established fuel efficiency and tailpipe emission standards, not only for our state but led to other states joining our protocols. The idea that he would even attack that goes to the core of conservative values, again, of states’ rights.”
On Tuesday, Donald Trump appeared to mock Thunberg’s speech at the U.N. in a twitter rant:
She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see! https://t.co/1tQG6QcVKO
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2019